A Story Of One Man’s Extreme Generosity And Questions On Frugality (plus, a readers poll!)

This past week,  I (Mrs. FE) was catching up on some reading and had come across this truly remarkable story about a great philanthropist. Although the story was released in September of last year, I felt compelled to share my thoughts about it today because it left such a huge and lasting impact. The story, which appeared in the Boston Globe, was quite extraordinary to say least and is about a benefactor who left his entire $4 million dollar estate to the University of New Hampshire upon his passing.

According to the Boston Globe, this incredibly kind gentleman had not only graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a bachelor’s degree in 1961, but devoted 50 years of his life working tirelessly in the University’s library as a cataloger. There, he was able to immerse himself in his love of books and movies. His name was Mr. Roger Morin, and he had amassed an amazing amount wealth by living a life that many of us may consider to be extreme frugality.

Mr. Morin had spent very little money on himself and was an avid saver. He would have a Coke and a small bag of Fritos for breakfast, a modest cheese sandwich for lunch, and a frozen dinner almost daily. He used a microwave to cook his dinner because he didn’t own a stove, drove a 1992 Plymouth, and wore the same clothes year after year. He lived alone and entertained himself by reading books published between 1930 and 1938 in chronological order. Mr. Robert Morin passed away at the young age of 77.

A true legend in the art of frugality.

Super cool compost project by the University of New Hampshire.

Mr. Morin was very accomplished in his effort to live frugally. He successfully managed to keep his standard of living far below his means in order to amass such great wealth. He didn’t indulge in many extravagances, such as, new cars or clothes and spent very little on meals – he kept his life simple. He also took advantage of the free books and movies in place of expensive entertainment. It’s quite obvious that Mr. Morin was a real life example of “The Millionaire Next Door” as described in the book written by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko. Some people may have even been surprised when they heard about how much wealth he had accumulated.

A terrific story indeed, but it left me asking one question…can frugality go too far?

I take nothing away from Mr. Morin and his display of enormous generosity, and know that he has provided a tremendous gift that will continue to give to future generations. But it appears on the surface that in lieu of accumulating life experiences, he instead chose to live vicariously through others via books and movies, etc.

This left me with many lingering questions, such as, has he ever fallen in love? Traveled or explored the world? Sampled the many different cuisines? Expanded his own boundaries by meeting new friends? Exactly how many “real life” experiences did he acquire during his life? In the end, did he feel that living a life of extreme frugality was worth the sacrifices he made? I suppose I will never have the answers to these questions. For all I know, Mr. Morin was happy with his lifestyle and never wanted anything more than what he had.

We all have different goals and desires, and to assume that he didn’t live a life that was fulfilling because it was different from ours would be a show of ignorance.

It’s important for us to answer these questions on our own in our quest to be frugal, because we are the only ones capable of creating a life that keeps us satisfied. In fact, Mr. FE and I have answered some of these questions when we asked Is Achieving FIRE Worth the Sacrifice?”., therefore, we feel that it’s not our place to judge others in their quest to be frugal.

Credits/Sources: The Boston Globe, “Longtime UNH librarian leaves $4 million to school”

The link to the original article printed in The Boston Globe can be found on Our Frugal Escapades Facebook page!

What are your thoughts on extreme frugality? Can frugality go too far?


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